Strong quake shakes Papua New Guinea: USGS

PapuaStrong quake hit at 09:14 am, 31 kilometres north of Rabaul in the the Pacific nation's east. (Reuters)

A 6.4-magnitude earthquake struck Papua New Guinea today, the US Geological Survey said, but no tsunami warning was issued and no damage was immediately reported

The strong quake hit at 09:14 am (2314 GMT yesterday), 31 kilometres (19 miles) north of Rabaul in the the Pacific nation's east, the USGS said. It was 18 kilometres (11 miles) deep.

Rabaul was the scene of destruction in 1994 when an erupting volcano caused a large number of buildings in the town to collapse, but seismologists said it was unlikely to have suffered any major damage this time.

"It would certainly have given the area a good shake but Rabaul is on the edge of our damage radius," seismologist John Bathgate from Geoscience Australia told AFP. "There's potential for some damage, but expect it to be very minimal.

"Damage would be more likely in coastal areas of New Ireland," he said, with the quake measured by Geoscience Australia as only around eight kilometres off the coast.

"There was potential for a localised tsunami but it would have passed by now and we have had no reports about one." Bathgate added: "It's not unusual for the area to experience this type of quakes, or even larger."

Quakes of such magnitude are common in PNG, which sits on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire", a hotspot for seismic activity due to friction between tectonic plates.

Last week, a 6.8-magnitude earthquake rocked the country's north but no major damage was reported.

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